I knew that November was going to be a slow month on gaming, but as always reality came to crash plans and I’ve had even less time available than expected.
EVE Online: I’ve barely logged in EVE. I’ve managed to squish 3 fleet ops this month and zero mining.
Final Fantasy XIV: I decided to cancel my subscription knowing that I was not going to play.
Lord of the Rings Online: This is the only game I’ve committed a significant amount of time this month. I have a level 23 Warden with Master Journeyman in all 3 crafting skills and a couple of level~8 alters (mostly for crafting and banking).
I’m not going to commit to any goal for December. It seems that it’s going to be a crazy month and I have absolutely no clue about how much free time I’m going to have or how tired I’ll be when I have it.
Probably I’m going to hit Winter/Holydays events on some games (Star Trek Online, EVE, Lord of the Rings…).
Out of my “personal bubble”, this month Warframe Wildstar has closed its servers. I tried to play that game three times and never got too far (about level 10?), it wasn’t for me, but MMO’s closing is sad no matter what.
On the other side, Fallout 76 launched. I don’t think it’s for me, either. I enjoy Fallout games as single player games, but I don’t see myself out there sharing the experience with other people. Nonetheless, it’s good to have new games around, even if they are not 100% “pure” MMO’s.
CCP has released “The Onslaught” patch for EVE Online on November the 14th.
Among all the small fixes and balance adjustments, it’s coming with novelties in four big areas:
PVE: A new iteration on the Triglavian sites (introduced last summer) that will allow a small 3 people frigate fleet to join forces and cooperate cleaning a deadspace pocket. Also, for solo cruiser pilots, there is an optional PVP branch with (potentially) better rewards. It looks good, but… I’m not into PVE in this particular game. I just do the bare minimum to keep my wallet on the black side, so… not for me.
UI: The Activity Tracker. As far as I understand, it’s used to measure how much time you put in doing a different kind of things. E-peen measurement? I’ll pass on that. They also added the “EVE search”. A search bar that will try to find a term into “anything” (characters, corporations, alliances, skills, ships, objects…). It can be useful, sometimes, but it can also overwhelm you with tons of unrelated results.
New ships: Two new (triglavian) ships: destroyer and battlecruiser. As with the previous battleship, they seem to be useful in some circumstances but they will probably be scarce and expensive (due to the difficulty on being produced), so they won’t get a place on any doctrine in the near future.
New structures: As one of the final steps in getting rid of the POS system, they’ve added 3 new Upwell structures: a cyno beacon, a cyno jammer, and a jump gate. The first two basically substitute their old counterparts with some adjustments on the timers. But the jump gate is not just a new “jump bridge”. It opens the possibility of joining with a gate owned by a different entity (hello blue-donut), can be used by capital ships and doesn’t generate jump fatigue (hello 2007, I’m back!!).
I’m impressed by the amount of changes that comes with this patch. I think most of them are good changes, can’t see anything wrong (I’m on the fence about the jump fatigue on the jump gates, we’ll see). But I don’t feel like logging in to try it.
I’m not saying goodbye to the game (not yet, at least), but this patch (even thinking that it’s good) has put me a bit off. Maybe I’m just becoming a bittervet?
Standing Stone announced a “Legendary” server for Lord of the Rings Online that is supposed to launch during this month in two days.
It’s not exactly a classic server, but something more in line with Everquest progression servers. It will launch with all the new races and classes and modern mechanics but limited to level 50 and pre-Moria zones. In theory, the subsequent expansions will be progressively unlocked every 4 months.
The idea is that all the server population can progress at a similar pace. You will not be alone trying to do a low-level instance, the economy (crafting, gathering…) is capped too, bells, whistles, pink unicorns…
I joined LOTRO when it became Free to Play. It’s never been my main game, but I’ve been in and out of it for a few years. The result is that I have a few chars in the 30’s-40’s bracket and one Guardian in the 60’s.
The last expansion that I bought was Riders of Rohan (mounted combat sounded soooooo good!) but I’ve never actually played it.
And here I am, considering a come-back in the Legendary server.
With any re-start comes choosing race, class, crafting…
Given that guardian and burglar are the two classes that I’ve spent most of my time with, I’m passing in both of them for now. After playing just a few minutes with each old alter, I have now reduced the choices to minstrel, champion or warden.
About the race, it will (up to some point) come limited from the class. I’m not a huge fan of the hobbit models, but the lore…
Of course, after choosing a class and race, I should study the virtues and focus on some of them. That would’ve been ideal but with the server coming out in just two days and without having decided yet… It’s probably not happening in time.
The server comes up on Thursday. Given that I can’t play this weekend, I’m going to focus on choosing a class/race combo, loging-in on the first day (assuming the queue/stability allows me) and make sure I can create the char/reserve the name. Next week is when probably I will actually start playing. I may even create 2 or 3 chars to ensure my names and sleep over the choice during the weekend.
Even if it’s a bit late for a monthly post, the previous one became out on the 6th of October so I am “technically” in time. I mean, obviously not, but I am going to concede myself that.
Looking back to the October goals, it’s been a bit mixed.
EVE Online: About the weekly fleets I’m more than delivered. Even if I have barely seen any combat, because there was nobody defending, I showed there. The logistic wing on an uncontested structure bash is as fun as mining in High-sec, but… Talking about mining… I’ve barely mined with the Rorqual: Less than 1 billion ISK during October. Probably I shouldn’t have bought it.
Final Fantasy XIV: I completed both goals within the first half of the month. It seems I overestimated the amount of grind in leveling gathering, or it’s been reduced at some point. So Herbalism and Mining are 50+ and fishing is 30+ now.
Guild Wars 2: As predicted, I’ve focused on 2 of the 3 games so, even if I’ve logged in a couple of times, I am still far from 80.
After closing October, let’s go with November.
This month is going to be scarce about online gaming time. I have 3 full weekends out of town, so I am basically restricted to my short evening sessions during weekdays. On top of that, Red Dead Redemption 2 is here and I plan to expend time with it.
I will stick to the same idea this month of having goals on three different games, assuming than probably I am going to focus on two of them and neglect another.
EVE Online: Once again, one fleet a week is the bare minimum I’ll stick to. I still want to mine-back the money I’ve spent in the Rorqual. We will see…
Lord of the Rings Online: My top level in this game is around 65. With the legendary server announced to launch this month, it will be a good chance to restart with a lot of other low-level players. Depending on the final date for launch, the goal will be different, of course, but I think that getting to ~20 should be fine. If I remember correctly is when you can get the first group instances.
Final Fantasy XIV: Black Mage to 70 (from 67) and progressing the post-expansion MSQ.
First, a little update about the Perimeter campaign. We did the armor timers on the structures yesterday without opposition. It feels a bit disappointing because it could have been a funny battle (and a good show for Hi-sec residents, too), but…
And, on top of that, some corrections over my last post. I wrote that we were deploying a faction Fortizar (and it’s true) but somehow I didn’t realize that we were deploying a Keepstar just next to it (probably was deployed later, judging by the time it finished deploying). We are talking about the first Keepstar deployed on High Security ever. Destroying it without capital and super capital fleets is going to be really hard for anyone who wants to try.
A couple of weeks after the end of the war, we’ve started a new campaign. This time is a different kind of beast, as we are engaging in High-security space.
It’s been about 10 years since the last time I had a fight on High-sec, I didn’t even have an Overview ready for this and judging for what I hear on comms, most “testies had never been on a High-sec war.
We’ve started the campaign by reinforcing some enemy citadels on Perimeter , just 1 jump ahead from Jita (the main trading hub in the game). We were expecting some oposition (judging by the War declarations that came yesterday) but for now, we are just bashing structures and creating TiDi around us.
We’ve gone into several fleets simultaneously attacking different structures each one, to maximize the number of citadels reinforced in one go.
The first reinforced citadel (by the fleet I was on) was a Fortizar (Perimeter Planet V Panfam Secured Hub). Its armor timer will come out tomorrow during EUTZ.
After that, we’ve come after a small refinery (IChooseYou Tatara Max Reprocess). By then, it seemed pretty clear that they weren’t coming to fight today. Too bad, because I don’t know if tomorrow I’ll arrive home in time to be fighting, and bashing structures without oppositionis boring.
And finally, we were to the Sotillo (IChooseYou Sotiyo) to help another of our fleets end it before docking up again.
Of course, we also have our own Fortizar deploying now (a faction one, this time). It will be online (or dead) by tomorrow. Having a Fortizar next door to Jita will probably mean that we will have to come and defend it every now and then. This may be interesting (content!!) or a chore, depending on who comes to attack it. Time will tell.
I want to talk about some features that I’m attracted to in MMOs. It doesn’t mean that they are 100% necessary for me to enjoy a game, in fact, some of them may exclude others, but if a game has some of this characteristics I would probably turn my attention towards it.
Probably, there is not a single game that gets them all, and it will never be. Actually, I’m pretty sure that if a game tried to grab all my “amazing features” at the same time it would become some kind of Frankenstein monster that nobody (even me) would want to play.
Now, what would make this amazing terrible Frankenstein game need?
This can actually mean two different things, and I am ok with both.
It can be skills instead of levels, as EVE or Wurm Online do, where your character is always evolving, but there is not a single number defining your power. Your character may be the best in one aspect of the game, but terrible in another, but you aren’t more or less powerful in absolute terms just because of that.
Another view could be skills and levels. Everquest, for instance, has this system where you will get levels as you accumulate XP, but your skills will improve when you use them. So, if somebody helps you power-leveling a tank, you will end at max level, but with 0 (or close by) blocking or parrying skills. Or, in other words, you will not be a tank at all.
This accent on skills can become grindly depending on how long does it takes to level them, and has the risk of you becoming a kind of Jack of all trades, but master of none if you are not planning thing beforehand. But at the same time
Catch up systems
I’m thinking about two different things, again. The first is the one you can see in a lot of veteran games. It’s basically a way to level faster at least up to some point close enough to be able to play with veterans. I personally don’t like the “Max level instantly”, at least for the first character, but being able to level with just the main story, or avoiding the grind for old reputations helps a lot if you are arriving “late” to the game.
There is a variation that also looks cool. It’s the level-syncing (think ESO). It looks great on paper, but if you get into the game alone, it can be tricky to find groups at first.
The second one is more controversial. I’m talking about short term caching. Some system that guarantees that a player who has lees free time to play don’t fall too far behind the most hardcore ones. It’s actually dependent of the type of game. I mean, for the usual theme park I don’t mind at all leveling slower than other more dedicated people. If they are puting the effort, they deserve to get there first.
But thinking of a game like Eve, if I hadn’t be able to level my skills offline, I would probably abandoned the game after a week. There are some games where leveling the table is important. Of course, somebody that is playing hours a day, 7 days a week would have more money or learn more about PvP than me, playing more casually and I am absolutely OK with that.
Deep crafting system
Maybe deep is not the right word, but it has to be something more than collect materials -> click button -> receive the item.
My favorite (of those that I’ve known) was Star Wars Galaxies. You had some generic requirements like: “200 units of metal” and you could use any metal you had. But each kind of metal had different properties like weight, strength… that affected to the stats of the crafted item. On top of that, you could try to improve the result with some research points (I don’t remember the exact name). So, in the end, crafting the same item would yield a lot of different results. A bit tankier, a bit quicker… Amazing.
Meaningful player impact
I came to MMOs coming from RPGs. I want to shape the world. It can be in subtle ways, it may need the cooperation of a lot of players, it can (probably should) have limitations, but it has to be something.
EVE, or Wurm are again great examples of what you can do. In EVE you have the high sec areas where players are (up to some point) limited in how they can change the universe. Sure, you can go and kill somebody, or deploy a citadel, but the 4 NPC factions control and shape that areas and that’s all. But as soon as you move to low sec, J-space or null sec, there is a ton of things players can influence. In low sec (parts of it, at least) you can help one of the 4 main factions gain control of a solar system. In null, they simply don’t exist. There are some NPC pirate areas and thousands of systems directly ruled by player alliances. The map changes daily. Empires fall and rise…
Wurm is actualy quite different. There are some PvP servers that actually are similar to null sec Eve, but most people play on PvE servers. There are vast areas of land that you can terraform, mine, buid, develop…
Yoou can pay and get a deed anywhere you want, except overlaping to other deeds, that (on PvE servers) would stop other people to modify. You can even drop massive amounts of dirt or sand over the water and create a new island.
There are a few more cool things like a complex player driven economy or incentives to cooperate but, in the end, I’ve found they are more subtle, harder to find unless you really try the game and stay for a while.
And maybe that’s the key. You can think a lot about what kind of game would truly be your “perfect” game but, in the end, you try a game and you enjoy it or not. With its virtues, its flaws, its community; thanks to them or despite them.
Today I want to talk about Expansions (DLC’s, seasons… you name it). More specifically about some issues I have with expansions.
Poorly named expansions. I’ve played (on and off) EVE for 11 years now, and I barely can connect one expansion with their content. There have been 16 expansions untill now with names as descriptive as “Inferno“, “Castor“, “Trinity“, “Kronos“… Now, with some more “story-driven” MMOs, the thing can work (think Legion for WoW), but EVE is more like… “Take these new mechanics and this balance pass. This is your new expansion”. So I have an approximate idea of when some systems become a part of the game, but don’t ask me the name related to them.
The overwhelming pack. This is obviously a personal thing. Probably people who have played the gamefor a while will know about the expansions and will have their memories but… Think for a second: Everquest has 24 so far. Final Fantasy XIhas 11 (including what they call Add-ons). And given that we are talking about old school games, there is not much hand holding there so, if you’ve never played these games, good luck figuring out what or where you’re supposed to be at your level.
But wait, there’s more! You know this really good game, with immersive lore and a good story that, in the end, leads you and your friends to kill that powerful demigod that was going to destroy your world? Well, now the expansion hits, and you know what? That demigod’s mom is not happy about it. So get ready and begin killing bears and picking flowers again, because we need you to save the world again. I understand that some level of epicity is needed, but “end of the world” scenarios every other week gets boring soon.
Should have been at launch. Main two offenders that come to my mind are not strictly MMOs although they “have” an online component. Let’s talk about No Man’s Sky, first. They promised multiplayer (and a few other things). Two years later, they’ve finally managed to deliver. I’m ok with some features coming after launch, and I understand that on launch week servers are not going to be very reliable but they knew that multiplayer was not going to be ready at launch, nor “around lunch”. They simply lied. And my second example is Elite: Dangerous. They launched the game unfinished (planet landings come to my mind, there were more), but they came clear (at first). They warned us that some parts were not going to make it in time, but they will patch in the future. But later they announced “Horizons”, the first expansion, that will include a lot of the missing features… for those who would buy the expansion. What? We’ve already paid for that!
Aaaaand that’s it! I really enjoy Star Trek Online. It has its defects, of course, but the setting, the division of quest in episodic arcs, voice-acting… I love this game. But 6 quest and 1 single queue? You can’t call that “Expansion”. That is a patch. Yes, I know, 2 new races, a few ships… But for people that’s been playing for some time, it’s not much content. On the plus side, it’s free, as all the expansions on STO.
Of course, there is a lot of good parts that I enjoy about expansions, too. They add content to games I like, they usually attract new players… But I will write about it in another (non-ranting) post.